The Definitive Buying Guide for in-Car Speakers

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The Definitive Buying Guide for in-Car Speakers
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The Definitive Buying Guide for in-Car Speakers

Choosing in-car speakers can be a bit overwhelming, especially for a first-time buyer. Inexperienced buyers tend to want the largest, most expensive set of speakers because it is deemed to be the best way to get the loudest, high quality sounds. However, this is not always the case. Buying in-car speakers takes a little time, finesse, and some knowledge.

There are numerous factors to consider before venturing on a shopping experience for in-car speakers, and these include speaker size, connection and cabling, power output, frequency response, and build materials. The aforementioned factors may not all seem important at first, but coupled with the other decisions that need to be made, these factors determine the outcome and overall sound quality of the newly installed in-car speakers. While the term "sound quality" can be subjective, buyers have to make informed decisions and then couple it with personal preferences to be satisfied at the end of the day.

Upgrading In-Car Speakers Considerations

Buyers first have to decide which speakers within their cars need changing. Most cars are initially equipped with four speakers including two front speakers in the front doors or the dashboard, and two back speakers in the back doors or the back dash. Oftentimes, buyers start out by only changing two of the four speakers, and in that case, the front speakers would be more ideal, given that the driver is situated there.

However, if buyers are seeking to increase volume, especially the bass, it would probably be easier to simply change the back native speakers to two 6x9s. 6x9 speakers are easier to install in hatchback cars because their back has an inbuilt parcel shelf to accommodate the speakers. Some people argue that these speakers are not the best quality for sound, but they are cheaper and space efficient, and their volume increase is generally evident. The following factors should be considered before a final speaker purchase is made.

Speaker Sizes

There are approximately five speaker sizes that are used in cars, and before buyers start their shopping, it is best that they find out our more about the speakers that are already installed in their car. The standard in-car speaker sizes include 10 cm, 13 cm, 16 cm, and 6x9s, which measure at 15 cm x 23 cm.

If a buyer is completely sure that they want to replace their current speakers, they can simply uproot them and bring them to the store for comparison. But if they are not sure, do not have the native speakers, or are planning to make the purchase online, they have to find other means of determining the right speakers to buy.

Some online sellers often provide info on the types of car makes and models that their speakers are compatible with, or buyers can visit their car company website for the speaker information. With the knowledge of the compatible size and configuration units, buyers can often source new speakers that can easily be slipped into the existing receptacles of the car. The only issue with buying new speakers with the same measurement is the depth, where the mounting depth of some cars islimited; thus, the replacement speaker cannot be too deep.

Component vs. Coaxial Speakers

Some buyers may argue that component speakers are better than coaxial, while others may have a contrary argument. The coaxial speakers, also called "full range" is the most common type of in-car speakers, and each contain multiple drivers, which enables them to emit a broader range of audio frequencies. The fact is that most vehicles are released from the factories with coaxial speakers already installed; therefore, upgrading them is simply a matter of dropping new ones in the existing slot.

Component speakers on the other hand, only have one solitary driver, which means that their design is only conducive to low, mid-range, or high tones. Component speakers have an overall better sound quality, but they tend to cost more and are a bit harder to install.

Speaker Type

Advantage or Disadvantage

Coaxial or Full-Range Speakers

Less expensive; direct fit; crossovers not needed

Component Speakers

Superb sound quality; greater customisation opportunity

Full-range speakers are the best choice for buyers who are concerned about their budget, as well as buyers who plan to do the installation themselves with little experience. While even the highest quality full-range speakers cannot compare to component speakers, they can still be a good upgrade for a fraction of the cost.

Power Output and Handling

The output and power handling of the speakers can also be referred to as its "efficiency". All these terms simply describes the amount of sound that is produced by a given speaker per wattage. In-car speakers usually list the peak as well as the average output "RMS". For instance, if the car stereo or head unit gives a production of 50 watts x 4, this can be considered the power output peak. However, buyers need to pay more attention to the max RMS, rather than the peak RMS power handling of the speakers.

The chosen speakers should always be able to withstand the power output that the car stereo or external amplifier is emitting. If the speakers are able to handle more power than the head unit or amplifier can give, this is not a problem, but similar power outputs are always better. However, if the speakers are not up to the task, then the volume may be noticeably diminished. The majority of the car stereo speakers on the market have a maximum power output of roughly 50 watts per channel; therefore, if buyers are not utilizing an amplifier and have no intention of adding one in the future, they should select speakers that have a maximum output of 60 to 70 watts.

Frequency Response

Frequency response of in-car speakers should also be considered based on the buyer's preferred genre of music. For instance, buyers who prefer rap and rock music should purchase speakers that can deliver low bass. A low of 20 Hz is considered "recording studio" great, but most buyers can settle for 50 to 70 Hz.

Connection and Cabling

Thicker speaker wires have lower electrical resistance, and lower electrical resistance means louder volume. Generally speaking, speaker wires with a lower resistance are considered better than wires with high resistance because the car audio amplifier now has better control over the speaker. Additionally, the length of the speaker wire plays an integral part as longer cables creates more distance, which creates more resistance, and vice versa.

Speaker Wire Chart

The chart below can serve as a guide to buying the right size speaker wire. Often times, a 10 gauge wire is sufficient for most in-car speaker installations and it is also the least expensive. However, if buyers can afford it, they can use the recommendations below for any stereo over 150 watts.

Wire Gauge

Stereo Wattage

12

150 +

14

100 - 150

16

50 - 100

18

20 - 50

22

5 - 20

The choice to select a thicker speaker wire depends on the type of speaker that the buyer wishes to power. In essence, if a large subwoofer is to be powered, larger speaker wires would be needed.

Build Materials

Built-in car speakers are not often made with good quality, which is often the reason for upgrading. These speakers tend to deteriorate with time, so a simple upgrade from the initial car speakers can vastly improve the listening experience.

Buyers should aim to purchase speakers that are made with certain quality materials. Speakers with rubber surrounds tend to last longer and improve sound quality. Cloth and foam surrounds tend to deteriorate faster than rubber, but they are still a better choice than paper and foam. Woofers with stiff, lightweight materials are longer lasting and they have great response to bass. These materials include metal coated synthetic fabrics or polypropylene combined with mica. Tweeters can use hard or soft materials based on personal preference.

How to Buy In-Car Speakers on eBay

If you are planning to buy in-car speakers on eBay, you should start with a general search for in-car speakers from the eBay home page. When a vast collection is generated, you can opt to browse through the entire selection until you find something appropriate, or you can enable a few of the associated filters on the page. The filters allow you to narrow down the results based on brand and speaker types, and if you are on a budget, you can also input a price range.

If you have already done your research and are certain of the particular speaker brand and type, you can bypass most of the browsing and filtering process by simply including those characteristics in your initial search. For instance, you could simply type "Pioneer coaxial speaker", and that would have already filtered out all other brands and speaker type before presenting you with the results. From this search, you may find that other filter options appear, such as the condition of the unit and the available RMS power.

When the appropriate speaker is found, you simply need to add it to your basket and checkout, or you can message the sellers if you need more information before completing your purchase.

Conclusion

Buying speakers online is not always easy because buyers prefer to have an idea of what the speakers may sound like before they buy them. Buyers who are planning to buy in-car speakers online should consider doing so through the eBay market platform based on the wide assortment, their powerful search engine, and their filter options.

However, before buyers venture onto the eBay website, they should consider and conclude the type of speaker that is needed. Buyers should know the speaker size that can fit correctly and the power output and frequency response that they require. They should also consider the types of speaker that would be best based on superior sound quality versus cost efficiency.

Buying new speakers is an investment, so it is always wise to purchase durable components by scrutinizing the materials used to build the unit. While the wires are not the most important consideration when purchasing speakers, buyers still need to also ensure that they choose the right cables if they plan to do the installation themselves.

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